Bill Clinton photo

Remarks to the 1994 National Hockey League Champion New York Rangers

March 17, 1995

Good afternoon. Please be seated. I'm delighted to see all of you here, and welcome to the White House and to the Rose Garden. You come on the first day that the trees are blooming, so you're bringing us all wonderful weather.

It's an honor for me to host the New York Rangers here, including the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman; the president and general manager of the Rangers, Neil Smith; coach Colin Campbell; and assistant coach Dick Todd. And I think Congressman Eliot Engel was supposed to be here, and he is unless they're still voting.

It was last June 14th when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, finally breaking the infamous curse. The next day I got a letter from Senator Moynihan, a big Ranger fan, who said that since the Rangers brought the cup back to Madison Square Garden, I should bring the Rangers to the Rose Garden. I'm delighted you're finally here. We've been trying to arrange this visit for some time, but what's a few months compared to 54 years? [Laughter]

I can't tell you how much I personally enjoyed the playoffs. I really got into them. I tried to rearrange my schedule so that I could see the games. I enjoyed seeing Mark Messier predicting and delivering a victory when your backs were against the wall. I enjoyed Brian Leetch's MVP playoff performance, the first by an American-born player. And I especially enjoyed your goalie Mike Richter's acrobatic saves. All of us here in Washington can appreciate what goalies do because we have so many shots taken at us every day. And I was hoping maybe, in addition to a jersey, one of you could loan me a face mask for the next year or so. [Laughter]

I also want to say something that I observed watching these playoffs. Stars alone don't win championships; teams do. I remember your chant from last year, "Heave ho. Everybody pulling together." This year it's turned into "Heave ho. Two in a row."

The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competition by professional athletes in North America, the only trophy that bears the names of not only the teams but the individual players who won it. I'd also like to say a special word of appreciation because the Rangers boast the first four Russians ever to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, another sign of our increasingly interconnected global community and America's outreach to the rest of the world.

I also admire the tradition that the entire team shares the Stanley Cup. Each player gets to take it home to friends and to family. This team took that one step further, because the Rangers know that teamwork isn't only about the guys who lace up the skates, it's also about your fans, too. And if ever a team had great fans, you do. So you paid your fans back by remembering right after the victory a longtime fan who had passed away, by bringing the cup to sick children in the hospital and even by bringing the cup to restaurants and bars throughout New York—[laughter]—as well as to one of the Vice President's favorite hangouts, the David Letterman show.

For all that, I thank you. Your victory has shown us what is best about professional sports: perseverance, hard work, real commitment to working together. It's an example for which all of us in Madison Square Garden and the Rose Garden are very grateful.

Congratulations, and welcome again.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:39 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks to the 1994 National Hockey League Champion New York Rangers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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